International Dark Sky Week draws attention to the widespread environmental impacts of light pollution and promotes simple solutions to solve it.
Created in 2003 by high-school student Jennifer Barlow, International Dark Sky Week has grown to become a worldwide event and a key component of Global Astronomy Month. Each year it is held in April around Earth Day and Astronomy Day. This year celebrations begin Sunday, April 15, and run through Sunday, April 22.
In explaining why she started the week, Barlow said, “I want people to be able to see the wonder of the night sky without the effects of light pollution. The universe is our view into our past and our vision into the future. … I want to help preserve its wonder.”
Why Should You Care About Light Pollution?
The nighttime environment is a crucial natural resource for all life on Earth, but the glow of uncontrolled outdoor lighting has hidden the stars, radically changing the nighttime environment.
We are only just beginning to understand the negative repercussions of losing this natural resource. A growing body of research suggests that the loss of the natural nighttime environment is causing serious harm to human health and the environment.
For nocturnal animals in particular, the introduction of artificial light at night could very well be the most devastating change humans have made to their environment. Light pollution also has deleterious effects on other organisms such as migrating birds, sea turtle hatchlings, and insects.
Humans are not immune to the negative effects of light in their nighttime spaces. Excessive exposure to artificial light at night, particularly blue light, has been linked to increased risks for obesity, depression, sleep disorders, diabetes and breast cancer.
What YOU Can Do
The good news is that light pollution is reversible and its solutions are immediate, simple and cost-effective. Here are a few simple things you can do to confront the problem and take back the night:
• Check around home. Shield outdoor lighting, or at least angle it downward, to minimize “light trespass” beyond your property lines. Use light only when and where needed. Motion detectors and timers can help. Use only the amount of light required for the task at hand.
• Attend or throw a star party. Many astronomy clubs and International Dark Sky Places are celebrating the week by holding public events under the stars. See the International Dark Sky Association’s Events Calendar to find an event in your area.
• Become a Citizen Scientist with GLOBE at Night or the Dark Sky Rangers and document light pollution in your neighborhood and share the results. Doing so, contributes to a global database of light pollution measurements.
Find out what else you can do and get more information about International Dark Sky Week from the International Dark Sky Association here.